Twitter’s statistics are mind-blowing. According to Internet Live Stats, every second, on average, around 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter which corresponds to over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day and around 200 billion tweets per year! So, how do you keep up with all those tweets? Obviously it’s impossible to keep up, but you can handle the avalanche better through a combination of maintaining Twitter lists of the people you follow, health-related hashtags, etc., and using Twitter’s Advanced Search Engine.
While the easiest way to do a search on Twitter is to click the native search facility, you can do so much more with Twitter’s advanced search capabilities. It allows you to narrow down your search using parameters such as specific keywords, language, people, location, and date range. In today’s post, I will show you twelve ways you can use this powerful search engine to search for health-related content on Twitter.
1. Search for a phrase: for example “healthcare social media marketing strategy”.
2. Search for any of these words: for example “healthcare social media” or “healthcare marketing strategy”.
3. Exclude any word: for example “blog”.
4. Search for health related hashtags: for example #hcsm.
5. Search for any specific language.
6. Choose specific accounts to search within.
7. Or find tweets directed to a specified Twitter user or referencing a specific username.
8. Search for tweets in a specific location or within a specified mile radius of a location.
9. Narrow down your tweets within a specific date range. This is useful if you want to catch up on tweets around a specific conference or event.
10. Discover sentiment around tweets – i.e. whether negative or positive.
11. Find health-related questions. This feature enables you to search for conversations happening locally that you might like to add your expertise to.
12. Choose to include re-tweets in your search. I usually exclude this search parameter, as I prefer to concentrate on original tweets; however it may be useful if you want to see how many times a tweet has been re-tweeted or who is re-tweeting specific tweets.
And here’s a snapshot of my final search results. As you can, I can zoom in on the most popular tweets, or those who are tweeting in real time. I cans also find photos and videos related to my search. I can even save this search, and embed it on my website.
Considering its capabilities, it is surprising that Twitter’s advanced search engine is so underused. Try using it to create lists, curate content, and as a social media listening tool to find health-related conversations. Once you start, you are sure to find other ways to maximise this powerful search engine to advance your healthcare marketing.
The first time I read this quote from Dana Lewis, moderator of #hcsm the premier tweet chat on healthcare, I was gripped by the notion of how Twitter and in particular tweet chats could influence the way we practise healthcare.
Social media is a radical shift in the way we communicate. The healthcare conversation is no longer a one-way narrative but is evolving into a global, participatory discussion. One of the most powerful ways I see this happening is in the modality of the tweet chat. The role Twitter plays in breaking down patient/provider barriers, disseminating and expanding the reach of healthcare information, widening social networks and co-creating a collaborative model of shared health information is one of the most exciting developments in social media.
What Is A Tweet Chat?
For those who may be unfamiliar with the phenomenon of a tweet chat – it is a pre-arranged chat that happens on Twitter through the use of updates called tweets. It includes a predefined #hashtag which links the tweets together in a virtual conversation. Most tweet chats follow a common format of a moderator who introduces pre-arranged topics relevant to the chat and keeps the conversation on track. The chats usually last one hour and a transcript of tweets is available after the chat has ended.
Symplur is doing an impressive job of compiling all of the healthcare hashtags and providing chat transcripts in The Healthcare Hashtag Project. The goal of the project is to make the use of healthcare social media and Twitter more accessible for the healthcare community as a whole (a full list and a tweet chat calendar of meeting times can be found on the Symplur website).
What Is The Impact Of Tweet Chats On Healthcare?
As a relatively new technological innovation, the use of Twitter as a modality for health communication is only now beginning to be explored with particular emphasis on the role Twitter may play in contributing to health based conversations directed at individual, community, and societal levels.
Many times, people’s choices in terms of Personal Health Practices (PHP) are context dependent and socially constructed. Healthcare tweet chats have tremendous potential to motivate participants and encourage change. Much of this change comes from peer-to-peer support which has been shown to be highly effective in motivating change. Many participants share conversational and informational knowledge that they believe is valuable both to themselves and others.
Studies show that individuals enrolled in meaningful social networks have protective properties in terms of overall health and wellbeing. Healthcare tweet chats provide participants with a sense of community and valuable opportunities for meaningful exchange and positive interactions.
The impact of digital technology in healthcare is leading to changing expectations by health consumers who, along with a desire to share information and connect with others, increasingly want to interact and engage with their healthcare providers. Twitter has also facilitated the emergence of the “patient opinion leader” an individual who is seen as an expert in chronic conditions such as cancer. Gunther Eysenbach refers to this group as “Apomediaries” – individuals that assist in the process of information searching but do not act as a gatekeeper.
So, what’s in it for healthcare practitioners?
Dr Bryan Vartabedian (@Doctor_V) of Baylor College notes of social media “the greatest value of this medium is the breakdown of barriers that have traditionally come between doctor and patient.” It is encouraging to see the increasing participation by doctors in many healthcare tweet chats, reaching out and sharing information, but also listening too.
Twitter offers opportunities for healthcare to reach out to patients in new and valuable ways.
These [social media] tools help us reach so many more people; we can bring shared interactions into our practice and that is powerful … This isn’t an addition to your job. This is part of your job. This is a conversation, and that is what we are trained to do … This is where our patients are these days and this is where we need to reach them. We can engage learners, patients and peers, and we are not limited by geography or time – Farris Timimi, M.D., medical director for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.
Another striking feature is Twitter’s crowd-sourcing capacity which allows health consumers, researchers and practitioners tap into a global source of advice, support and information. Twitter also provides a unique opportunity to learn from patients’ direct experience shared during these chats.
If healthcare innovators and providers wish to remain relevant and connected to digitally enabled patients, they need to go where the conversations are – more and more those conversations are happening on Twitter and the evolving dynamic of the tweet chat is the best place to find them.
Eysenbach, G. (2008). Medicine 2.0: Social networking, collaboration, participation, apomediation, and openness. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 10(3), e22. doi:10.2196/jmir.1030
Twitter is making a major shift in how it counts characters in Tweets, allowing tweets to become much expanded and relaxing its defining 140-character limit. Although no official announcement has been forthcoming, it’s been widely reported this week, that the microblogging site will soon stop counting photos and links as part of its limit for messages. Links currently take up to 23 characters of a tweet, reducing the space available to users when sharing online content.
When it launched in 2006, Twitter’s character limit was originally devised as a way of fitting tweets into the SMS character limit. so users could send and receive updates on their phone. Being able to condense thoughts and messages into 140 characters has become one of Twitter’s most defining features. When the suggestion was floated earlier this year that it might expand the limit to 10,000 characters limit, my heart sank. Limiting tweets to 140 characters is a terrific way to hone your key messages. Twitter founder, Jack Dorsey once described the limit as a “beautiful constraint” that “inspires creativity and brevity”. It also means you can quickly scan through timeline tweets – imagine trying to do that when 10,000 character tweets start flooding in! However, this new move is a welcome compromise in my opinion. It allows for more flexibility without compromising the creativity and brevity many of us have come to value.
What do you think of this news? Do you welcome the expanded capacity to tweet more.
Mistakes are a natural outcome of trying something new. When you first start on Twitter, it may seem that there is a lot to learn, and the potential for mistakes while learning is high. I’d like to lessen that learning curve for you by sharing some common Twitter mistakes I see all the time – and not just with new tweeters! If you are a Twitter newbie these tips will minimize rookie mistakes; if you are already a seasoned tweeter, look on this as an opportunity to rectify any mistakes you might already be making.
I am passionate about the power of healthcare tweet chats – you can read why I think they are such a transformative modality in Can A Hashtag Change Healthcare?
One of my favorite chats is #HealthXPH, a twitter chat based in the Philippines. One of its founders, Dr Iris Thiele Isip Tan recently gave this talk at the Healthcare IT Philippines conference. It outlines the genesis and evolution of the #HealthXPH tweet chat, and for anyone interested in how healthcare chats work on Twitter, it’s a must-see presentation.